There are several key ingredients that are crucial to a new disciple’s development.
Relationship is the first key to discipleship.
This concept includes several aspects. The discipler must have a strong relationship with the Lord if he desires spiritual growth in his disciple. In addition, he must cultivate trust with the new convert. A discipler must commit time and energy to build the relationship needed to be effective as a discipler.
The second key is conviction.
It is not enough to simply want to disciple someone. A discipler must believe in the importance of discipleship. He must believe that it is a biblical mandate given to the church. A discipler must be willing to get involved in someone’s life and patiently train the next generation of church leaders. A discipler understands that in a position of influence, there is a greater responsibility to be consistent in his walk with Christ.
The third key is focus.
The disciple must be a priority and may even require some sacrifice on behalf of the discipler. These times together are not simply to go over sections in a book or just sit and fellowship. Discipleship is one believer showing another believer how to live the Christian life. In the times spent together studying the Word of God, the discipler answers questions, counsels, encourages, teaches, corrects, applies truth, and gives “spiritual” homework.
The final key is organization.
If discipleship is not important enough to organize, it will not be important enough to emphasize. We believe that the Sunday school (or adult Bible class ministry) is the church organized. Therefore, we organize the outreach and discipleship through these classes. New converts are paired together with disciplers from their adult Bible class. Each class has its own discipleship secretary assisting each class leader in keeping the importance of discipleship before his class.
Given below are some final thoughts to consider as your ministry seeks to develop a biblical strategy for discipleship.
1. Disciple in such a way that when you are finished, your disciple can go on to disciple someone else.
2. Rather than simply teaching rules, teach doctrine and Bible principles, and strive to be a godly example.
3. Teach your disciple to become dependent on the Word of God, not on you, your church, or any other personality.
4. Teach your disciple to hear, read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God.
5. Explain the importance of the Word of God for practical daily living.
6. Pray with and for your disciple.
7. Remember that your disciple will disciple others the way you disciple him.
8. Remember that discipleship will never replace soulwinning.
9. Teach the principle early on that spiritual strength can never be attained apart from the Word of God.
10. Preach the importance of discipleship to everyone.
This article is an excerpt from the book Order in the Church by Dr. Paul Chappell available from Striving Together Publications.